The Mets definitely didn’t expect to be here.
They entered the 2022 MLB postseason as a No. 4 seed and were hosting the Padres on Friday night in Game 1 of a National League Wild Card Series with Max Scherzer on the mound. They lost the NL East title to the Braves following a three-game series sweep by Atlanta on the last weekend of the season.
While the situation was manageable in theory, it was a nightmare in practice. Scherzer gave up four home runs and seven runs total over 4 2/3 innings in a 7-1 New York loss. The Mets are now on brink of elimination heading into Saturday’s Game 2 at Citi Field.
That means Jacob deGrom, the Mets’ ace and arguably MLB’s preeminent ace today, will be pitching to save the team’s season. Manager Buck Showalter said ahead of the series that deGrom’s usage could hinge on the result of Game 1. The Padres went ahead and kicked that door off its hinges with a statement win in the opener.
The Padres will have left-hander Blake Snell on the mound for Game 2. Snell has been on a tear of late, with a 2.06 ERA (2.03 FIP) in September and October. If Snell stays in top form, the Padres could be moving on to play the Dodgers in the Division Series.
DeGrom, on the other hand, has been trending in the other direction. He began his season with a roar in August after coming off the injured list, posting 1.66 ERA heading into the second week of September. But the Mets lost three of deGrom’s last four starts and he posted a 6.00 ERA in that span.
DeGrom is also battling a finger blister on his pitching hand, although he said after Game 1 the “finger’s good,” per SNY.
“I look back at that Atlanta start (Sept. 30 vs. the Braves, his last regular-season start), I made a couple of mistakes that they capitalized on,” deGrom said. He allowed three solo home runs in a 5-2 Mets loss. “Other than that, I feel like I threw the ball pretty well (11 strikeouts in six innings).”
Snell and deGrom’s last postseason appearances both came in the World Series. DeGrom struggled against the Royals after a magical 2015 playoffs. He gave up four runs in five innings as Kansas City knocked him out of Game 2.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” deGrom said Friday of that game.
Snell, of course, was pitching for the Rays in his last postseason appearance in 2020. He was controversially lifted in Game 6 of the World Series against the Dodgers after 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. The Dodgers went on to win that game and the Series.
Back to 2022: Here’s a statistical look at the Game 2 matchup between Snell and deGrom:
DeGrom’s stats are by no means terrible, but they aren’t to the standard Mets fans have come to expect. He’ll have to be at his best against the Friars as they try to bring the lumber again Saturday.